‘Hot Girls Wanted’ Is Pornsploitation: The Porn Industry Fights Back
Hot Girls Wanted, a documentary now streaming on Netflix, seeks to expose the “horrors” of the amateur porn industry. Too bad it gets a lot wrong in the process.
Few documentaries about porn get it right. Typically made by people in the “anti” or “pro” camps, viewers looking for honest insight into the porn industry will have a hard time finding it. Hot Girls Wanted, the Rashida Jones-produced Netflix documentary, is no exception.
The doc illustrates a seedier side of porn from a narrow perspective. It’s focus is on the pro-am (paid amateur) genre of a Florida-based porno recruiter, and while that in itself is fascinating, it’s the text blurbs added in post-production that pretend to shed light on the adult industry as a whole, and miserably fail to do so.
About seven minutes into the film, this blurb flashes onscreen: “California recently passed a law requiring the use of condoms in pornography.” Seconds later it fades away, followed by: “Because porn featuring unprotected sex is more popular, many companies now film in cities like Miami.” These kinds of statements mislead the audience into believing the industry has moved to Florida, when in fact the same companies affected by the condom mandate are either still operating in Los Angeles and/or filming just a few hours away in places like Las Vegas. This is just one of its many discrepancies.
While some of the elements in Hot Girls Wanted ring true, the film fails to portray adult entertainment as the professional business it is, capturing only a sliver of a multifaceted industry still largely based in California—where it is legal.
The so-called model houses on display here really do exist—and in Los Angeles as well as Florida. Girls fly in on tickets purchased by their new agent (who also happens to own or rent the model house), bond with the other girls over their inexperience, and agree to do things they may or may not want to do for the money. Some spend this money moments after earning it with the promise of more to quickly come. These are consenting adults, and yet some seem more like kids eager to prove themselves to the world. They want to be the next Sasha Grey, Jenna Jameson, or Belle Knox. So they look to their agents for guidance. After all, agents are often the gateway to success, offering fame and fortune to girls who seek it. Unfortunately, eager newbie’s will do almost anything their agent tells them to, and not every agent is a good one—a point Hot Girls Wanted gets right.
But as difficult as it is to fathom, there are good agents in the adult film industry.
The documentary focuses on Hussie Models, run by 23-year-old Riley, a Florida-based male performer turned agent. It’s not unusual for industry veterans to become talent agents, however some conduct business with more than just money in mind.
With over a decade of experience in the adult industry, Jack Spade also transitioned from performer to agent, and now operates two licensed agencies: Sylveria and Adult Star Models. Appalled by Hot Girls Wanted, Spade is determined to voice his concerns. “Just a couple of days ago, I had a meeting with some of the other licensed agents and said, ‘What are we going to do about this, guys? Isn’t this on us to step up and show the other side?’ And it was sad because there was almost a sense of helplessness—but I’m not going to give up,” says Spade.
A good agent looks out for the model’s best interests while also preparing her for what may lie ahead. Sometimes that means stopping a career before it ever starts. According to Spade, his agency has no qualms about turning a prospective model away for her own good. “Before we buy a model a ticket to fly out here, one of us will talk to them. We get on the phone and ask about her goals. If she says she’s halfway through nursing school, we say don’t do it, it’ll ruin your future. And I don’t think Riley from Hussie Models is doing that,” says Spade. “I don’t think there is a genuine effort put into how this will affect their lives.”
While some women enter the industry focused on fast cash, others are eager for fame and excited about the prospect of legalized sex work. With multiple award nominations and over a hundred adult movies to her credit, Jenna J. Ross can easily be considered a successful porn star—a title the girls in the documentary were keen to obtain. “A lot of the girls in the movie seemed like they got in for quick money, and while that happens, the ones that stick around and make this a career genuinely love it,” says Ross. “I got into the industry, not for the money but because I genuinely loved it.”
As a performer who enjoys her work and has experienced a more professional and supportive atmosphere than what was portrayed, Ross points out some of the problems with the documentary and questions it’s objectivity. “I think it’s a very small slice of the industry and not a very wide-angle lens. The problem with putting that kind of movie out is that everyone is going to think it’s the norm, and I just don’t think it is.”
Award winning writer-director for adult company New Sensations, Jacky St. James sees few similarities between the industry she works in and the one portrayed in the documentary. “The producers act as if they are doing some greater good by exploiting the adult industry to mainstream media. They present no solutions to the problems presented within this documentary, but instead tell the same tired tale of how pornography ruins lives and somehow exploits the very women that made the choice to enter the industry completely of their own volition,” says St. James. “The real pioneers changing the industry are those already working in it. Male and female pornographers, both in front of and behind the camera, with a vested interest in the future of adult. One incredible example that should be noted was the creation of APAC (Adult Performer's Advocacy Committee).”
While the adult industry continues to lack a union on par with SAG, perhaps in part due to the transient nature of the talent at hand, there remains a desire for unity among some career-oriented performers. Which is part of the APAC mission statement: “To provide representation for performers in the adult film industry and to protect performers’ rights.”
Agent Jack Spade reiterates the importance of working together within the industry to create a mutually beneficial working environment, one that will hopefully weed out the less savory aspects of the industry. “I’ve been going to the APAC meetings for the performers and suggested that we, agents, reach out and work with them,” says Spade. “The industry is more desperate than ever, there are a lot more people involved now, and yet there’s no real unity. That’s what I’m trying to work on.”
Hot Girls Wanted makes no effort to provide a balanced look at the adult industry. To showcase an industry with its fair share of happy employees working together to improve its weakest links wouldn’t be as effective. A woman seeking to join the adult entertainment industry has options; she doesn’t have to go with the first ad she sees online offering a free plane ticket. With a little bit of research, she can chose to be a part of a legal, tested, regulated industry with licensed agents who treat her like a valued client and not just another piece of meat. In porn as well as politics, the truth won’t be found along partisan lines.